Blame richer foreigners: Welcome to the new nativism

In the fifth season of the TV series, “Yellowstone,” protagonist John Dutton makes a speech, having been newly elected as governor of Montana, in which he promises Montanans that he will use his power to disincentivize wealthy outsiders from New York and California from coming to the state, buying up vacation properties, creating demand for airports and resorts and generally driving up the cost of living.

A similar sentiment is cropping up around the world, in which urban locals blame foreign tourists and digital nomads and Airbnb for the rising cost of living and rising rental costs.

We first heard this sentiment from residents of Mexico City, where some feel gringos are showing up in unprecedented large numbers, spending lots and lots of money and driving up the cost of living.

Now Portugal is enshrining this idea into law, banning new Airbnb properties, revoking their Golden Visa program and generally seeking to disincentive wealthier outsiders from coming to the country and driving up the cost of living for the Portuguese.

I fear this idea will spread globally as people in the post-pandemic era travel more, work abroad more, and seek out more exotic vacations, workstations and temporary residencies.

The fact is that when foreigners with money to burn show up in large numbers in any place, there are winners and losers. They boost employment. They might as well be dropping hundred dollar bills from helicopters. They drive up home valuations for those who own homes. At the same time, they drive up rental costs for those who don’t own homes And they drive up the price of going to some restaurants and some bars, and using some other services for locals, whose income has not increased to accommodate the rising cost of living. 

There are winners and losers. But for the most part, these locations benefit. The reason is that foreigners take their money from abroad, and they spend it in the countries where people are complaining. More money means more employment, more tax revenue to improve local services are in general make things better.

It’s no coincidence that these notions are cropping up in an era of inflation. As I travel around the world, I’ve noticed inflation everywhere. But everywhere you go locals have a local reason why they think global inflation is taking place. 

I fear that if local regulations in places like Portugal succeed in reducing the number of foreign visitors, they’ll find themselves with all the inflation and all the rising costs of living, but with fewer jobs to pay for it all.

Inflation is global and to assign a local cause to it is mostly misguided.

In any event, a new nativism is taking hold, and it’s going to seriously impact Wii, global travelers, digital nomads, and remote workers.

Digital nomad pro tip: Don't skimp on a backpack!

My backpack failed me in the worst way. The zippers failed at the Marseille Airport rental car lot. The backpack was less than a year old. 

In October of last year, I bought the Endurax Camera Drone Backpack. I liked it because it had a flat drone launching pad, a rain-proof cover, lots of space and cost only a hundred bucks on Amazon

Big mistake. 

The front panel, which exposed the entire innards of the backpack, closed with two zippers, which met in the middle. 

Some months ago, one of the zipper's sliders slipped off the "teeth" or "chain" of the zipper. It was inconvenient, but I kept using it with the other zipper. 

Then, a couple months ago, the second zipper slipped off as well. I had to carry the backpack horizontally with both arms in front of me to the rental car. (I understood the possibility of using pliers to re-connect the sliders. But I had lost faith in the zipper.)

Once we arrived at our apartment in Provence, I used the mini day pack that attaches to, and came with, my Meridian rolling luggage. The pack is handy, but it's really a minimal, poorly protected skimpy backpack. That's what I used for the next two months. I carried it across France, Spain and Morocco. I wore it in the Sahara desert. 

In that tiny backpack I squeezed my brand-new M1 MacBook Pro, my iPad Pro and my Sony A7 III dslr into the backpack, using T-shirts for padding. 

During two months of travel, the flimsy backpack damaged the expensive Pad & Quill cover for my laptop, and probably damaged my camera. It was painful to wear. When it rained, I had to take shelter because I knew the backpack couldn't handle the rain. 

It was a stressful, painful two months, thanks to the failure of my backpack. 

But no more. 

I just bought the Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack (pictured above). It cost three times the amount as my previous backpack, and worth every penny. It has super high-quality, waterproof zippers. All the materials are extremely high quality, plus it has a gazillion great features that you can research if you're interested (mostly around the designs for wearability, access and straps). It's really an incredible backpack. I also bought a small "Camera Cube" to optimize the protection and use of my DSLR. 

My point is not to praise the Peak Design backpack specifically, but to offer the following advice: Don't fuck around with your backpack purchase if you're an internationally traveling digital nomad, especially one like me who carries expensive gear. 

My attempt to save a few bucks almost cost me thousands of dollars in damaged equipment, nearly wrecked my back and created needless stress while traveling. 

When you buy a backpack, get one that will not fail you. When you're abroad carrying expensive gear, backpack failure is not an option.